Weightlifting's risky new trend: a case series of 41 insulin users

Curr Sports Med Rep. 2012 Jul-Aug;11(4):176-9. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31825da97f.


Use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) is common among strength-trained individuals, and a growing concern is the misuse of insulin. A 99-item Internet-based survey was posted on discussion boards of various fitness, bodybuilding, weightlifting, and anabolic steroid Web sites between February and June 2009. A case series of 41 nondiabetic insulin users is described. The typical insulin user was 30.7 ± 9.2 years old, male (97.6%), and Caucasian/white (86.8%) who classified himself as a "recreational exerciser" (47.5%). The average insulin user also used anabolic steroids (95.1%) and practiced polypharmacy by incorporating 16.2 ± 5.6 PEDs in his or her yearly routine. Hypoglycemia was reported by most of the subjects (56.8%), and one individual reported unconsciousness. Insulin was obtained most commonly from local sources (e.g., friends, training partners, gym member/dealer; 40.5%) and community pharmacies (37.8%), with most (80.6%) finding it "easy" to acquire their insulin. Strategies aimed to prevent insulin misuse are needed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Doping in Sports / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / adverse effects*
  • Internationality
  • Male
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Lifting / statistics & numerical data*
  • Weight Lifting / trends*


  • Insulin
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances